This exercise was centred around examining and producing images for articles as editorial illustrations and it made me think back to the very beginning of the course where I attempted to create something similar for an online article in exercise 1.2. I had a few issues then and ended up dissatisfied with the outcome, so for this task I was curious to see how I have progressed in my approach since then.
Firstly, I needed to examine some existing articles, so I picked up a copy of The Daily Telegraph as it had a large variety of illustrated supplementals for me to look through. It was suggested that I only need to make a mental note about how the images have been made to relate to the text, but I found writing to be a more natural way for me to analyse in the same way that I've done in previous exercises, so I've shared some of my thoughts on my findings below.
As the title suggests, the Telegraph Money supplemental features finance related articles, so I found it interesting to see how the three illustrations that had caught my interest had chosen to approach topics that revolved around a common theme that shares similar visual symbology. In this case, as the subject of the articles are not elaborate to begin with, most of these are simple but effective graphics that have the advantage of being quick to produce and deliver.
The cover features a photo collage by Thomas Broom that uses outstretched hands holding banknotes and brand logos to communicate how much money has been saved by the papers consumer champion column. Although this is a simple edit of existing assets, it works effectively as a metaphor because of its composition as the hands break the boundary to appear to give directly to the reader.
The subject of the loss of a readers £85,000 to a false advert is illustrated by Veronica Grech in a colourful depiction of a thief escaping with bank notes stolen from the victims broken “pot of gold” on the left. I feel that this one may have been too literal if it wasn’t for the pot of gold analogy adding an extra element of interest but the artwork still does it's job effectively.
Finally, on the back page Toby Dexter (AKA Scaredycat) has used sweets in a jar to demonstrate investing in a stocks and shares ISA. The metaphor works well at visualising a concept that’s not bound to a physical object as multiple hands move the contents around, though some extra detail could have helped demonstrate the motion more clearly.
By contrast, Telegraph Lifestyle had more of subject variety in its articles. It's magazine style ‘write in’ segments by readers alongside more opinion pieces and advice columns call for more of a narrative approach. This has given more creative opportunities for inventive responses from its illustrators and I feel that the briefs for some of this work has allowed for more time for the artists to work on a concept.
In an article regarding the boom of an importer of German wine, illustrator Adam Larkum has responded with an image that ties together a fantasy of stereotypically dress German characters with the harvest of grapes. This is my favourite illustration of all the ones I have found because its charmingly rendered and full of life on its own while still complementing the article well. The irregular text wrapping around it also adds to its unique appearance on the page.
Further along I’ve included this example from a piece on home spa treatments as something that I feel has unsuccessfully illustrated the article. This loose stack of words listing the properties of the ingredients has not been credited to an illustrator, leading me to believe that this was quickly made by an editor as a piece of visual flair to fill the gap instead of being commissioned for a more considered piece on a topic with lots of scope for playful exploration.
On the back page I found the agony uncle page, which features several short advice columns with different subject matters, but the one depicted is from a letter about an elderly couple struggling to communicate when one has a hearing problem. The illustration by Kaja Merle has a distinctive style to it and does an excellent job of staging a composition with a relatable narrative that many of us are familiar with from our own experiences with elderly relatives.
Understanding the full context of the article to link together ideas seems key to making this kind of illustration effective and I kept this in mind as I moved on to the main task of creating my own from another series of suggested headings.
Of all the suggestions "Loves me, loves me not" stood out to me as the most interesting to find an avenue for as I thought of its parallels to the modern day dating scene. The game is French in origin (Effeuiller la marguerite) and is played most often by hopeful romantics that would pick the petals off a daisy flower to see if the person they desire returns their affections. As they alternate through each pick of the petals, whichever phrase they would pick for the last petal would be the outcome of "loves me" or "loves me not".
I felt that the contemporary version of this game nowadays is to trivially swiping through matches on dating apps, though now with the added uncertainty of seeking the affections of several matches rather than just one person. Online dating has continued to be a common subject in newspapers and magazines throughout recent weeks as the lockdown rules designed to prevent the spread of coronavirus has inevitably led to a shift in the dating scene as singles are now restricted to only be able to look for potential partners from their own homes.
This has led to increased activity across all online dating services and articles and guides that offer advice on how best to make use of this time to get to know a potential partner are numerous. I looked for similar articles like this to base my own illustration on and eventually found one titled "Should Single people be using quarantine to date?" written for The Independent. It goes on to ask questions about whether it’s the right choice to join in on the trend or to instead use this time as an opportunity to take a break to look after ourselves instead. I felt that this is a useful message of caution and provided an alternative view from a mental health perspective that I hadn't yet seen covered in the other articles.
I dissected the article using the methods suggested to read through it several times and highlight key phrases break it down while also sketching out small drawings of ideas as I looked for the best connections and inspirations to develop.
After reading through several times, I could then write down a list of words to describe what the overall function of my image would be. I found this slightly tricky at first because I didn't yet have a solid idea in mind, but eventually I narrowed it down to a few phrases that described the main concepts in the article that I wanted play against each other.
Narrative - I wanted my image to tell a story and to show one of the scenarios mentioned in the text. This could be achieved through a direct scene with characters in a home environment, or through something more playfully conceptual.
Self-care - This is the leading message of the article and should be referenced in my depiction. This could be a scenario that shows a need for self-care, or a demonstration of how to practice it.
Fatigue - The article demonstrates a potential need for a break, to relax and distance yourself from dating apps that could be causing mental fatigue.
For my design process I initially had around four different main ideas that I wanted to try and flesh out, so after I drafted each one and then made iterations by sharing concepts between them for each revision until I then had 8 different options to choose from. In keeping with the ideas that had emerged from the first images I came up with as I read through article, they feature on a young person interacting with a dating app in some way, but with different moods and approaches to the scenario of dating from home.
Some of my concepts had my character shown taking time to themselves in a realistic home environment, whereas others took a more conceptual approach of using elements from dating apps and profiles to physically interact with her in a negative way by weighing her down and showing fatigue. Although I still like these more playful ideas, I feel that they sometimes overshadowed the positive message in the article that it's ok to take a break and look after yourself. As this was the strongest theme that I wanted to support, I decided to go for 4b as it was the most "full" feeling scene to me, with lots of options for environmental storytelling.
On the left of the frame is a young woman's phone that's been popping up with notifications from a dating app, whereas on the right of the frame she is seen ignoring it in favour of relaxing in the sun by door through to her front garden. I wanted to show her as having a physical distance from the phone as her body language and the type of objects closer to her would suggest that she has ignored dating in favour of taking some time to look after herself as the article suggests.
Due to the complexity of the scene that I was envisioning, I didn't want to experiment too much with the technical approach of making my image. I had made a narrative image that combined digital work over a physical sketch with success in exercise 0.0 , so I knew that I could do something in a similar style again here. Something that I have been considering when looking through illustrated articles is the time frames they would have been given, and that it can sometimes be a better decision to play to your strengths when there is a deadline before an articles publication.
I gathered together a mood board of references that matched the theme that I wanted, including items related to common activities that many have taken to during this time at home such as personal fitness and reading.
I used my references to create an 8x10" pencil sketch at the same size of one of the images I had looked at before. I'm pleased with how this turned out as a more subjective take on a scene than what I'm used to with this much going on.
I made some changes to my original concept as I went, such changed the woman to now have a reclined pose towards the viewer where her relaxed facial expression can now be seen. I also payed closer attention to her clothes for her character design, to make it appear that she had just returned from a run. As a nod to the original Loves me, loves me not game, I used daisy wallpaper near the phone on the small table.
Using ArtRage and Photoshop, I then traced over my line work digitally. I didn't stress too much about keeping the lines perfect as long as you could tell what each object was to support the story. After this I added the colour and ended up with the overall image looking a bit flatter than I intended. It didn't show much depth in the scene, so I tried something new and added a separate semi transparent layer over the top where I could paint in darker shadows and create contrast.
The difference was immediate, so I went over the rest of the scene which balanced things out a lot more. I found it tricky to get my head around effectively lighting a scene that I had build from so many references, but as with the line work, I concentrated more on atmosphere than accuracy with the shadows.
This use of light also helped me to reinforce the areas that I wanted the viewer to focus on, with the phone still visible but left in the dark as a negative as she is shown clearly in a well lit and naturally tranquil setting. For the finishing touches, I feathered the edge of the image to further soften the scene and faded the area behind the sliding door to give the impression of glass.
Although this is not my most technically accurate work, I am really pleased that I managed to get the storytelling elements across how I wanted to. I've been enjoying drawing human characters recently, so it was good to be able to make practical use of that in a fully framed scene that I feel compliments the original title of my article as well as the suggested prompt.
Fox Leonard, B. ‘Cant wait for your spas to open? Create your own…’ In: Telegraph Lifestyle 16/05/20 P.17
Hunt, M. ‘Millennial Investor’ In: Telegraph Money 16/05/20 P.8
Madeley, R. ‘Agony Uncle’ In: Telegraph Lifestyle 16/05/20 P.2
Moore, V. ‘Going Deutsch: German wine has a new song to sing’ In: Telegraph Lifestyle 16/05/20 P.9
Morley, K. ‘Katie Morley Investigates’ In: Telegraph Money 16/05/20 P.4
Ritschel, C. (2020) ‘Should single people be using quarantine to date? Experts weigh in’ In: The Independent 27/04/20 At: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/dating/dating-app-quarantine-coronavirus-single-online-relationship-expert-sex-a9486751.html (Accessed 26/05/20)
Telegraph Money. ‘Record £2.0007.655 won back for readers’ In: Telegraph Money 16/05/20 P.1